Nepal earthquake - Q & A

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What happened?

On 25th April 2015 at 11:41 local time a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, with the epicentre 81km northwest of Kathmandu. There were tremors of up to two minutes and by evening, at least 18 aftershocks had been felt. 24 hours later, after a 6.7 magnitude tremor, 65km East of Kathmandu, the Government reported over 2,200 deaths and 5,800 injured people. The number of casualties is expected to increase further as information is collected.

How is Nepal responding?

The Government of Nepal has declared a state of emergency and requested international assistance. The whole emergency operation is being coordinated by the Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee, Government of Nepal. The search and rescue teams are working full capacity to remove people trapped under the debris and are now supported by personnel from India.
An emergency operating centre has been established.
The Nepal Ministry of Health is responding but is stretched and is in need of emergency kits and supplies. The military has been requested to help with this. Surgical equipment, staff and triage will be needed to address the immediate needs of people still trapped or injured as a consequence of the earthquake A decision of activation of UN cluster system will be taken today (Sunday 26th). UNHCR is consolidating on their capacities and supplies to support the Government of Nepal in the response.

How does CBM work in Nepal?

CBM has a Nepal Country office, coordinated from our Regional Office in Bangalore, India. We are supporting 9 partner-projects in Nepal. These include eye and ear care programmes, Orthopaedic and Community-based Rehabilitation services, mainstreaming of mental health and psychosocial disability, education and livelihood and empowerment of women as well as disability-inclusive development advocacy initiatives.

How have CBM and partners been affected?

CBM Emergency Response Unit has been in contact with our Regional and Country Offices, and staff directly affected on the ground, who are safe. All CBM staff members and their family have been made aware of dos and don’ts during aftershocks to ensure safety. We are in the process of contacting partners, but communications are still extremely difficult and the aftershocks are making this worse. We have not yet reached all partners [correct 26 April midday Central European Time].

What is the situation for people with disabilities?

The WHO estimates 15% of the global population live with disability. In any emergency or disaster, people who live with some form of disability are disproportionally affected. Reasons for this include inaccessibility of warning messages and emergency shelters, loss and damage of assistive devices, disruption of support networks and increased difficulty in accessing basic humanitarian operations (food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care services).
At the same time, emergencies can increase the number of people who experience disability, both short and long-term, due to injuries sustained and lack of effective medical services. It was reported that during the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami research the mortality rate among persons with disability was twice that of the rest of the population.
It is likely that persons with disabilities or people with injuries will need immediate medical as well as rehabilitation services. For persons with disabilities, assistive devices allow much needed autonomy to participate to emergency response and recovery activities.
The briefing note issued by Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) on 25 April mentions persons with disability in Nepal particularly at risk after the earthquake.

What is CBM doing to respond?

CBM will respond to best ensure that persons with disabilities (including older people and other more at-risk people) and their families can access mainstream relief and recovery services and, simultaneously, that any specific needs are met.
CBM is still assessing the situation, however is likely to:

  • Build up and support capacity of our orthopaedic and rehabilitation partner to support persons with injuries and persons with disabilities with medical services

  • Work with our local Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) partners to identify affected persons with disabilities and their needs, and to support them in accessing relief activities.

How can I help?

You can donate, via the CBM Member Association nearest you